Hiking involves many different facets such as walking through the woods and climbing mountains with a heavy backpack full of accessories and stuff that you may require for hiking. It is also essential to pick the right clothes and pack the appropriate gear for the hike to have a safe and fun hiking trip in the woods. The key is to plan in advance for any obstacle.
It may sound strange but connecting with nature starts with you gathering all the information from the internet first. A number of hiking experts recommend that you should choose a hike that is equivalent to your physical fitness and level of experience. If you are new to hiking, take a short trip with less sharp terrains and advance over time till you get comfortable with covering long distances and challenging landscapes.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you started on your first hike and ensure that your trip goes smoothly without a hitch.
Prepare Your Body For the Hike
It is important to get in form before hiking and train your body for any physical challenge that might come along with hiking. Hiking experts advise beginners to start with walking outside for two to three kms and working up the distance to six to seven kms while holding a backpack. For example: if you drive to get groceries or run errands around the market, try grabbing a backpack and walking your way to build stamina. Walking to and from the market and carrying heavy food items will stimulate how hiking challenges muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance.
If you are working on a major terrain, focus your workouts on boosting your core and leg strength. You can also go for weight training routine that improves performance as well as supports your joints (ankles, knees, and back) that are usually strained while hiking.
Get the Right Shoes
Get a good pair of hiking boots or shoes while preparing for a hike. However, before purchasing new shoes, it is essential to do some research. One thing to keep in mind is that new footwear will lead to blisters and could result in a painful experience. Hence, keep in mind to try and test your new kicks for a comfortable hiking experience. If you are going for an easy hike, select light hiking boots or trail running shoes, but for intense hiking which includes backpacking and mountain climbing, select heavyweight hiking shoes or boots that give ankle support and cushioning to the feet.
Before you head out for the hike, pack the following essentials as they will help you prepare for any type of hike.
- Sun Protection: Carrying sunblock with a good SPF and UV-blocking capability helps protect your skin from the harmful sun rays. A hiker should apply sunscreen on a cold day as well. Additionally, wear polarized sunglasses with UV protection and a hat or a cap to protect your face.
- Hydration: The amount of water that one needs to hydrate oneself mainly depends on the intensity of the hike. The key is to pack multiple small sized bottles for each person, and it is crucial to strategize water refills. Keep a water purification solution like chlorine tablets, iodine drops or a good quality water filter.
- Navigation: Devise a track that you need to follow so that you don’t get lost in the woods, this can be done with the help of a map, compass, or a GPS.
- Nutrition: Carry a good amount of light, calorie-filled nutritional food to last you for the whole trip or at least half of the trip. You can keep energy bars or trail mix for your first hike.
- Insulation: It is always a smart idea to pack a few extra layers of clothing. Even if it is hot outside, it is essential to bring non-cotton clothing in case the weather changes, or you get stranded somewhere unknown.
- Flashlight: Carry a flashlight even if you plan to stay out only during the day. Keep the batteries fully charged before leaving for the hike.
- First-aid supplies: You must carry a basic first-aid kit which includes gauges, tweezers, ointments, etc., to help anyone in need. Many hiking supply stores have pre-packed first-aid kits for hikers.
- Photo ID: It is always a smart idea to carry a photo ID, debit/credit cards in case of an emergency. If you hike for more than five to six hours, it is best to carry toilet supplies such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Once you’re set to go for your first hike, follow these guidelines mentioned above for staying safe and comfortable.